Office in your pocket

Flash drives make it easy to carry data but if you really want to take full advantage of these mini marvels, read on as we explain how to turn your flash drive into your mobile office...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  August 1, 2006

|~||~||~|Flash drives, also known as thumb drives or memory sticks, are by far the most convenient way to transfer data from one PC to another when there is no network available. Moreover, they are available in a range of different capacities (up to 2Gbytes) and are also very aggressively priced. Did you know however, that in addition to storing documents and music files, you can also use large capacity flash drives to store applications? These then serve as a personal office when you are out and about. This is useful as it means you’ll be able to use software you are accustomed to and you can also have your personal settings, account data and more to hand, wherever you go. The applications detailed here won’t leave any traces of themselves on any machine you stick your flash disk in, so you needn’t worry about leaving behind passwords, login information or personal settings behind. Best of all, downloading will be quick and painless as all of these apps are small in size. So what are you waiting for? These are the programs we recommend you download to get your office on the road, so get clicking! If there are additional portable apps you’d like to recommend, feel free to e-mail us at and we’ll feature these in next month’s ‘Help Desk’ section. ||**|||~|FireFox.jpg|~||~|Portable Firefox If you’ve grown accustomed to the excellent Firefox browser but have to work on a PC that only has Internet Explorer installed, then Portable Firefox is exactly what the PC doctor ordered. This smaller version of Firefox will run independently from a flash drive and leave no trace of its existence on the host computer when you’re done. It will display most pages as normal, however Java applets will only load if Java has already been installed on the host PC. ||**|||~|Thunderbird.jpg|~||~|Portable Thunderbird Portable Thunderbird will allow you to take your e-mail account with you without relying on a web-based e-mail service such as Hotmail or Gmail. The application is based on a Mozzila e-mail client that packs in message searches, customisable views and RSS support. Like Portable Firefox, Thunderbird leaves no trace of itself or your settings (such as your login details) on the host machine, so your personal information is always safe no matter where you go. ||**|||~|Open-Office.jpg|~||~|Portable Open Office 2.0.2 Requiring 167Mbytes of space on your flash disk, Portable Open Office 2.0.2 is tiny in comparison to the full-sized Open Office or Microsoft Office 2003 suites. Still, it will let you perform most common office tasks and will also allow you to work with documents authored using Microsoft Office, Word Perfect and even Lotus. You get a well designed word processor, spreadsheet app, presentation application and even a drawing program. ||**|||~|AntiVir.jpg|~||~|AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic There’s always the chance the machine you plan to plug your USB drive into could be infected with a virus. If you want to protect your drive and data from getting infected then, AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic is a must-have. This little app can be installed and run from your USB drive, and can scan for all manner of viruses. It can even be updated with new virus definitions. Very useful if you’re hooking your drive up to a PC that lacks security software. ||**|||~|Stinger.jpg|~||~|McAfee Avert Stinger 2.6.0 McAfee’s Avert Stinger is a limited virus scanner in comparison to AntiVir (see left) in that it is only able to detect high-risk attacks. As a result it’s tiny in comparison, requiring only 1.2Mbytes of flash drive space, which means it's a good choice if you’ve got a small disk and can’t afford to waste space. The application's interface is basic at best but will let you easily track down 45 of the most deadly viruses and trojans around. ||**|||~|Adware.jpg|~||~|Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition 1.06 Spyware is a constant annoyance that can leak your personal information to unwanted parties. Luckily, Ad-Aware can be run completely from your flash drive. It isn’t designed to do this by default but getting it to work is just a case of installing it on a PC and copying the install directory to the flash drive. The app can then be executed without problems and can be used to track down and remove spyware. ||**|||~|KeePass.jpg|~||~|KeePass Password Safe If you can’t for the life of you memorise your bank account’s PIN number or a particular password, KeePass Password Safe is just what you need. The open-source application uses AES and TwoFish encryption and is designed so keystroke loggers or other snooping software can’t capture your data. It even has a special storage system for use-once passwords such as those used for online banking. ||**|||~|player857.jpg|~||~|XMPlay 3.3 If you want to listen to your favourite tunes while you work, XMPlay is just the tool for the job. This app is capable of playing a huge number of audio formats and can be expanded further via plug-ins. The software supports Net streaming and ID3 tags so you’ll be able to watch and listen to content from HTTP and FTP servers with ease. Have it set-up just the way you like it? You can save presets as well. ||**||

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